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Pirates open to Andrew McCutchen extension

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates are willing to consider an extension for Andrew McCutchen, Rob Biertempfel writes.

"Andrew's been a critical part of the team," owner Bob Nutting said Wednesday. "I love having him in a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform, and I hope he (wears it) for a long, long time."

Two things:

1) "Andrew's been a critical part of the team" has to rank among the greatest understatements in recent sports history; and

2) I love Andrew McCutchen. If I were in a Saw movie and Jigsaw told me to use surgical implements to dig a key out of my own stomach to unlock a box that contained a device I'd need to scramble Neal Huntington's cell service so he couldn't trade Andrew McCutchen to Milwaukee, I'm not sure what I would do.

That said, it would be very hard for the Pirates to make a McCutchen extension make sense. The idea that McCutchen probably isn't a player the Pirates should extend at this point is deeply counterintuitive, but I really think it's true. With the club option on his incredibly team-friendly current contract, they already control him through 2018, which is his age-31 season. To extend him, they'd have to go well beyond age 31, and extending a thirty-something superstar for what I assume would be $25 million or more per season sounds like a recipe for disaster for a team like the Bucs. If there's some way for the Bucs to sign McCutchen on reasonable terms for, say, two more seasons beyond 2018, then I'm all for it, but I highly doubt McCutchen would consider such a deal.

McCutchen, at 28, is close to being the best player in the game, but a four-year span is a very long time in baseball terms, especially when that four-year span crosses a 30th birthday. We really have no idea how he'll play in six or seven years, and it's a very poor idea to pay for MVP-caliber performance during those seasons. McCutchen in 2021 or 2022 is highly likely to be a completely different player than he is now. He's still likely to age better than most, but there comes a point when it becomes unwise to bet on a player maintaining his skills. I'm thrilled that the Pirates have McCutchen through 2018. If there's a way to keep him through 2019 or 2020, great, but I doubt there is. Beyond that, I'd be wary.